Saturday 23 November 2019

Lowry tax case: Matters need to be clarified

Alleged he knowingly filed false tax returns

Former Minister Michael Lowry
Former Minister Michael Lowry
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

A case against former Minister Michael Lowry who faces charges he knowingly filed false tax returns has been adjourned until next month to clarify a number of issues.

Judge Elizabeth MacGrath was informed by the State Solicitor Gerard O'Brien that the book of evidence against the former minister was ready for serving.

Mr Lowry's solicitor Michael Collins told Thurles District Court there had been agreement reached between the parties to adjourn the case until April 1 next.

Mr Lowry, who was represented by his solicitor in court, has already confirmed he will strongly contest the case. He has said the matters before the court relate to "technical breaches which Revenue allege arose 11 years ago". "I intend to vigorously contest the Revenue allegations," he said.

The first charge was brought against Mr Lowry last December and a further three charges were levelled against him last month.

Mr Lowry (60) of Glenreigh, Holycross, Co Tipperary faces a total of four counts of “knowingly or wilfully” filing incorrect tax returns.

Three of the charges relate to a date in October 2003 and involves income tax for the 2002 tax period.

The fourth charge relates to a date in August 2007 and involves income tax for the 2006 tax year.

State Solicitor, Mr O'Brien, said he has been instructed specifically by the DPP in relation to issues Mr Collins wishes to have clarified before the service of the book of evidence.

"The book is ready," he said. However, he said in the circumstances the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is "anxious the matter proceed but proceed properly". He said the answers would be provided to the clarification questions sought by Mr Collins.

The judge was informed the matter would take four weeks.

Judge MacGrath said she would extend the time for service of the book of evidence, adjourning the case by consent until April 1. However, she told the court she expected the case would be returned for trial on that occasion.

The court has already heard the matter is to be dealt with by indictment before the Circuit Criminal Court by judge and jury rather than in the District Court.

Under section 1078 (2) (A) of the Taxes Consolidation Act, the charges carry a fine of up to €3,000 and/or up to six months in jail, if proven in a District Court and a fine of up to €127,000 and/or up to five years imprisonment, if proven before a jury in the Circuit Court.

Father-of-three Mr Lowry is a former Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications in John Bruton’s Rainbow Coalition Government.

He was first elected to the Dail for Fine Gael in 1987 having been a successful Tipperary-based businessman and a GAA official.

Following the collapse of Albert Reynolds’ Fianna Fail-Labour Coalition in late 1994 he was then appointed to Mr Bruton's Cabinet.

Mr Lowry resigned his position in November 1996.

He has now been an Independent TD for the Tipperary North constituency fo 17 years.

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